Native American Law
The University of Idaho College of Law’s Native Law Program consists of four components:
- The academic program that allows for specialization in Native American Law: Native American Law Emphasis (brochure)
Emphasis Tracks (pdf)
- The Native Law Program Faculty, including Native Law Faculty Member and Program Director Dylan Hedden-Nicely as well as other faculty that teach Native Law Emphasis Courses.
- The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) – the law student organization for those interested in this area of the law and for Native law students. Find NALSA on Facebook.
- Collaboration with Regional Tribal Nations. There are six federally recognized Tribes in Idaho: Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe, Northwestern Band of Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation.
The Native Law Program at the University of Idaho College of Law is focused on providing law students with a foundation in the interrelationship between Tribal Law, Federal Indian Law, and the intersection of State Law. The overview course, “Native American Law” provides a broad view of the field that offers law students an introduction into the foundations of Tribal civil jurisdiction, criminal jurisdiction, sovereignty, and natural resource management. This course offers a broad range of topics in Federal Indian law including the foundational cases, federal pre-emption of Indian affairs over state interests, federal delegation of authority to states, and the federal trust doctrine; and the basics of state law impacting Tribes, such as P.L. 280 jurisdiction in Indian country. On a rotating basis, the courses “Native American Natural Resources Law” and “Tribal Nation Economics & Law” are offered.
The University of Idaho College of Law offers a one-of-kind Native Law program to its students. Students are encouraged to participate in the College of Law’s annual Native American law conference. This conference as well as other events provide students with the opportunity to learn from and interact directly with native law practitioners. Practitioners also frequently guest lecture in the Native Law courses. Students complete skills training in a Tribal Court CASA program as well as the National Native American Law Students Association moot court competition. These skills are then solidified through the service of externships with tribal nations, tribal courts, public interest organizations, and state and federal agencies.
The University of Idaho College of Law has an on-going commitment to educating law students in the area of Native American Law and encouraging Native Americans to enter into the field of law. Over the past several years, distinguished faculty have included Professor and James E. Rogers Fellow in American Indian Law, Angelique EagleWoman (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate) now Dean and Professor of Law at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University, Emeritus Professor of Law Dennis Colson, Professor Doug Nash (Nez Perce Tribe), founding Director of the Seattle University School of Law Institute for Indian Estate Planning and Probate, Former Interim President and former Dean of the College of Law Donald Burnett, Jr., and Honorable Steve Aycock the former Chief Judge of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. In the area of Native Water Law, Professor of Law Barbara Cosens has published extensively and was an organizer for both the Indian Water Rights Settlement Conference and the Winters Centennial Conference. She also has served as a mediator in Indian water rights settlement negotiations. Upon this firm foundation of expertise as exemplified by the individuals who have contributed in the area of Native American Law, the University of Idaho College of Law continues to build.
The Academic Emphasis Program in Native American Law requirements:
The University of Idaho College of Law’s Native American Law Emphasis is based on a rigorous curriculum in Native American law. After completing the first year of law school, interested students may apply for the Native American Law Emphasis. In the second and third years of law school, the Native American Law Emphasis requirements may be met. Upon successful completion of the Emphasis, the law school transcript will denote the Native American Law Emphasis attainment.
The Emphasis requires a minimum of 6 credits from the Native American Law curriculum (Native American Law, Native American Natural Resource Law, Tribal Nation Economics & Law), 6 credits in a topic related to Native American Law, a research paper in the area of Native American Law that meets the standards of the College of Law’s Upper Division Writing Requirement; and completion of an internship, externship, pro bono hours, clinical experience or other experience involving the application of Native American Law for a total of twenty (20) hours. All aspects of the Emphasis require the pre-approval for each component by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor.
To earn the Emphasis, students must complete the requirements for four components: A, B, C, and D.
- A. 6 credits from the Native American Law Curriculum (Native American Law, Native American Natural Resource Law, Tribal Nation Economics & Law);
- A substantial research paper on a topic approved by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor of 20-30 pages focused on an area within Native American Law;
- 6 credits related to the Emphasis as approved by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor (e.g., Administrative Law, Basic Family Mediation, Critical Legal Studies, Environmental Law, etc.); AND
- Completion of 20 service hours of experience documented and approved by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor (e.g., externship with a Tribal Nation, Tribal Court, Public interest organization, state or federal agency on an issue involving Native American Law, etc.). More information about available Externships that fulfill this requirement.
Upon successful completion of the Emphasis, the law school transcript will note the fulfillment of the Native American Law Emphasis.
Tribal leaders, lawyers praise high court ruling, Lewiston Tribune interview with Professor Dylan Hedden-Nicely
Inland Northwest tribal leaders, lawyers praise key Supreme Court decision on tribal sovereignty, Spokesman Review quoting Professor Dylan Hedden-Nicely
- University of Idaho Expands Native Offerings, Indian Country Today, By Jack McNeel